A Great Cornard church is embarking on an ambitious £1 million project to transform its building into a community hub.
St Andrew’s Church has applied for a £600,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create a versatile venue for the whole community.
The work will include developing the gallery which overlooks the main worship area, as well as creating a meeting room and installing seating to replace the pews with chairs.
Toilet and kitchen facilities will be added, while the flooring will be altered to make it level with the entrance.
The venue will be transformed to host a range of events, from wedding receptions to exercise classes, alongside regular church services.
Vicar the Rev Chris Ramsey said he was keen to offering couples getting married in the church the option to host their reception at the venue, something they are currently unable to offer.
“It all about having a vision for the community in a place that is a centre of worship, yet embracing diversity,” said Mr Ramsey.
The church committee hopes to raise the remaining money through further grants and fundraising.
An open day for people to view the plans will take place on Sunday, from 10am.
As part of the project, the church plans to digitalise parish records and record interviews with people over a 700-year period.
“We look at it as adding our own layer of history to this beautiful building,” said Mr Ramsey.
“It’s about celebrating the history of the church and putting our own stamp on it, too.”
Church warden Peter Halden hopes to see the venue benefit a range of groups.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the building being used during the week,” he said. “Because, at the moment, we, like most churches in villages, are under used.
Mr Halden hopes to work with Gainsborough’s House to offer art classes to the community, as a way of rekindling their ties with the 17th century painter, whose parents are thought to have married in the church.